A second referendum is the answer—but not now, and not on the timescale the first minister proposed last week either. We must learn the lessons of 8th Juneby Kenny MacAskill / July 4, 2017 / Leave a comment
Last week, Nicola Sturgeon reset the timetable for “IndyRef2,” with the potential date put back. Initially, the plan was for a vote in late 2018 or early 2019; now, the First Minister has said she will not introduce the legislation needed for a referendum until the autumn of next year.
It’s a deferral rather than an abandonment of a second independence ballot, done to try and steer a political path through diametrically opposite political pressures. On the one hand, the fact that pushing hard for another indyref has hurt the SNP as the result of the general election showed; and on the other the intense desire by many party members for a second independence referendum as soon as possible. The path she settled on has bought her some plaudits and time from the members, but the former problem will continue to hirple her.
Independence hasn’t gone away and yet a second referendum was never going to happen in the timescale first proposed anyway. Nor is it likely to occur within the delayed one either. It’s an abstract argument that arouses fervour amongst political activists but is becoming a turn-off for many voters.
The only potential trigger is a calamitous Brexit. Then all bets are off, both for Scotland in the union and for politics more generally in the UK. Whilst this remains a possibility it’s unlikely. Either a Brexit deal will be struck that’s acceptable or negotiations will still be ongoing; either of those outcomes would almost certainly necessitate a further delay in the referendum timetable.
There are three principal reasons why there won’t be an early referendum. Firstly, there’s no agreement from the UK Government. The last referendum was subject to approval and the Edinburgh Agreement was signed. Similar legislative consent would be required and an accord reached. Neither has been done nor is likely to be achieved. In the absence of some Catalonia type stand-off, an early second referendum isn’t getting beyond the statue books in Holyrood, if it even gets that far.
“Achieving another referendum isn’t everything; you have to win it”
Secondly, as 8th June showed many people on both sides of the border are simply tired of elections and referenda. They want a break from politics for a while.…